Recalling The Legacy Of Dr Martin Luther King

April 4, 2018

[Written by OBA Deputy Leader Leah Scott]

“Wednesday, April 4, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. While Dr King will always be remembered for his “I have a Dream” speech [March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963], he wrote many other speeches that are just as memorable.

“The one that resonates with me, in particular, is a speech he wrote entitled “Loving your Enemies.” [From Strength to Love [Harper & Row, 1963, reprinted by Beacon Press in A Gift of Love: Sermons from Strength to Love and Other Preachings, 2012] Dr King wrote this speech in July of 1962, while he was jailed for two weeks, and it is based on the scripture verse, Matthew 5:43–45:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be children of your Father which is in heaven.”

“The love referenced in this scripture verse is called agape love. Agape love is not the kind of love that is based on emotion, and it is not a love that comes naturally to any of us. Agape love is an act of the will. It is a faithful and committed love. It is getting up every single day and saying “I choose to love everyone who comes into my path today, no matter what MY circumstances are.”

“Despite everything that was done to him – the beatings, the arrests and incarcerations, the constant oppression – Dr King loved his enemies. Why? Because he recognized that love is liberating, especially for the one who loves.

“Choosing to show love enables us to release our judgments, opinions and expectations of people. When we look at others through eyes of love, we can see beyond one’s faults and short comings…we can see clearly the beauty that lies within.

“Many focus on the fact that Dr King was a great civil rights leader, but we must also remember that he was a Baptist pastor. Accordingly, Dr King’s religious views cannot be separated from his views on societal reformation. It was Dr King’s religious views that motivated and propelled his desire for social change, and we do him a disservice if we disregard this aspect of his life.

“Perhaps if we took the time to appreciate that every one of us is going through something, or will, at some point in time, go through something, regardless of how much money we have or what religion we follow, we would be kinder and more forgiving, and love more freely.

“King dreamed of the day that “…all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” [I Have A Dream Speech, 1963] That day cannot and will not come until each of us makes a conscious decision to love one another– no matter what our race, creed, color, nationality or gender may be.

“If our true desire is to see Dr King’s dream fulfilled, then no matter what our specific religious beliefs are, we must be agents of love, for it is love that covers a multitude of sins [1 Peter 4:8], and whatever is done in love is never any trouble, and–there is always time. [Abdu'l-Bahá]“

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Comments (6)

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  1. Onion Juice says:

    And just to think that the policies that your party legislated was far from LOVE.

    • Double S says:

      You mean like stripping human rights from our immigration legislature or reversing gay rights?

    • wahoo says:

      Can you be specific? What policies are you referring to?